This will be a short one, but there was just something I wanted to get off my chest. This is a point that most people aren’t addressing, or at least not that I’ve seen.
When these police shootings happen, we always hear the same things from the people who refuse to acknowledge any police wrongdoing. The justifications typically go like this:
- Just do what they tell you and you won’t get shot.
- Cops are human too and you never know what you’ll do in an escalated situation like that.
- There are bad apples in every profession.
Those who use these as reasons to justify unnecessary lethal force from the police are actually right….in a perfect world. The first one, for example, sounds pretty easy and straight-forward, right? Do what the police say, even if you don’t agree, and once you’re safely behind bars, the rest will work itself out. Easy peasy, no?
The thing people fail to remember in these situations is that we do not, in fact, live in a perfect world. If the police are called to a location, it’s likely already an escalated situation. If the police pull someone over, whoever is in that car is going to be nervous and on edge, whether they’ve done something wrong or not.
“Just do what they tell you, and everything will be fine.” Yes, in theory, that is what you SHOULD do. However, what we we have to realize is that in most of these situations, at least one, if not more, of these things is probably happening with the person the cops are trying to apprehend:
- They may be mentally impaired.
- They may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- They may be under emotional duress from whatever is happening around them, or from fear of what the officers may do.
- They may be experiencing very extreme and extraordinary emotions in that moment, from paranoia, to fear, to extreme rage.
In any of those scenarios, instinct, whether good or bad, is going to kick in. Adrenaline and fear are going to kick in. In these kind of situations, it is very unlikely that the suspect is in a state of mind where they can make smart, sound decisions, for whatever reason.
Police officers are SUPPOSED to be trained to handle these types of situations. They are trained to de-escalate and apprehend with the least amount of physical harm possible. Lethal force is supposed to be a last resort.
Yet, whenever these things happen, there are always those ready and waiting with “You don’t know what you would do in a heightened situation like that. The officer did what they thought was best in that moment. The suspect should have just complied, and it would have been uneventful.”
The hypocrisy there is undeniable. Why is it that we excuse police brutality because “the officer had to make a split second decision,” but we expect perfect compliance from the victims in that situation? Stop expecting perfection from ordinary citizens under duress, while making excuses for police officers in the same situation. We must hold our law enforcement members to a higher standard. And they must realize that even guilty people are supposed to be apprehended unharmed when possible. Why do police have less stringent rules than soldiers? In a war, if your shoot an unarmed person in the back, it’s considered a war crime. Police are not the judge, not the jury. Their job is to protect and apprehend, and let due process run it’s course. That is what every citizen in this country is entitled to under the Constitution.
Bottom line: the expectation from American citizens that we all receive fair and equal treatment from those trained to serve and protect is not a political issue. It is a human issue. Fulfillment of that obligation is the only way we can go from no justice, no peace, to KNOW justice, KNOW peace.